Neighborly Garden News
Be on the lookout for destructive pests!
The most recent bulletins from UMASS Extension Service have featured extensive coverage of pests and diseases affecting our region. Some pests, like the Gypsy Moth, are habitual invaders. They attack each year, but some years may be better or worse than other years depending on environmental factors. Other pests present new challenges to our garden and landscape, and we must be ever watchful to protect our yards and local flora.
The Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula) was found in Boston in February this year. Luckily it was only one dead adult insect, however, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is asking residents to check any potted plants purchased, and to please report any suspicious insects. The dead Lanternfly was believed to have been transported up from Pennsylvania on a Poinsettia plant. The spotted lanternfly has been reported to attack over 70 species of plants, including the following: tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) (preferred host), apple (Malus spp.), plum, cherry, peach, apricot (Prunus spp.), grape (Vitis spp.), pine (Pinus spp.), pignut hickory (Carya glabra), sassafras (Sassafras albidum), serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), slippery elm (Ulmus rubra), tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), white ash (Fraxinus americana), willow (Salix spp.), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), American linden (Tilia americana), American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis), big-toothed aspen (Populus grandidentata), black birch (Betula lenta), black cherry (Prunus serotina), black gum (Nyssa sylvatica), black walnut (Juglans nigra), dogwood (Cornus spp.), Japanese snowbell (Styrax japonicus), maple (Acer spp.), oak (Quercus spp.), and paper birch (Betula papyrifera). For more information about the spotted Lanternfly, visit this fact sheet: https://ag.umass.edu/landscape/fact-sheets/spotted-lanternfly
Spotted Lanternfly Identification
A dramatic and possibly widespread outbreak of the oak shothole leafminer (Japanagromyza viridula synonym Agromyza viridula) and oak anthracnose (Apiognomonia errabunda) has occurred this season. The oak shothole leafminer is a small fly in the family Agromyzidae. Not much is known about this particular species, although very short-lived outbreaks of this insect on ornamental oaks have been recorded in New England in the past. The oak anthracnose pathogen appears to be opportunistically colonizing foliage damaged by the leafminer. The anthracnose damage appears mostly minor to moderate in severity (leaf spots and blotches). However, for some trees the disease has been far more damaging (leaf wilting, death and premature shedding). Infected leaves may have tan to brown-colored spots and blotches or appear blackened and wilted. Generally Oak anthracnose infection subsides by mid-summer when it is hotter and drier. Healthy trees usually have no problem pushing out a second flush of leaves, and once these leaves have matured, their waxy cuticle will prevent re-infection. Unfortunately if the tree is already weakened from attack by gypsy moths, drought, or other fungal problems the effects of infection by Oak anthracnose can be exacerbated.
Oak Shothole Leafminer damage
Larval Roseslug Sawflies attack roses in MA, by skeletonizing the upper leaf surfaces. Because they are the immatures of a fly, and not a moth or butterfly they are not considered a caterpillar and pest control utilizing Bacillus thuringiensis will not be effective on this pest. Roseslug Sawflies are native to the Northeast. Once the larvae are fully grown (approximately ½ inch in length), they drop to the ground to construct overwintering cells. Pupation occurs the following spring and adults emerge shortly thereafter. There is one generation per year. Your best bet for control is to use an insecticidal soap spray, or pyrethrum dust or spray. You may also try a systemic type insecticide that can be absorbed into the plant tissues; killing the pest as it feeds.
Rose slug damage
Rose slug larvae
Viburnum Leaf Beetle: Pyrrhalta viburni is a beetle in the family Chrysomelidae that is native to Europe, but was found in Massachusetts in 2004. The larvae of this small insect have a voracious appetite for Viburnum leaves. The most susceptible species to this invader are: V. dentatum, V. nudum, V. opulus, V. propinquum, and V. rafinesquianum, but I can personally attest that they love the American Cranberrybush Viburnum, V trilobum, also. Once they’ve become established you may have these pests present every year. There are several species of Viburnum that are considered less susceptible to attack: V. bodnantense, V. carlesii, V. davidii, V. plicatum, V. rhytidophyllum, V. setigerum, and V. sieboldii., and it would be worthwhile to consider re-planting with a more tolerant species than trying to manage the invasion each year.
Viburnum Leaf Beetle
Viburnum Leaf Beetle larva
July’s ‘to-do’ list:
Resist pruning spring flowering shrubs after July 4th or risk losing flower buds for next year’s bloom. It’s helpful to remove spent flowers, to keep your garden border neat. Now is a good time to prune heirloom and rambling roses, now that they’ve finished their bloom period. Some heirloom roses will have a second flush of bloom, so applying a fertilizer for roses, after pruning, would nourish the new growth.
New and recently planted shrubs, trees and perennials need supplemental water during the growing season. Deep, less frequent watering is preferred over shallow daily irrigation. Please don’t rely on rain for watering newly planted trees and shrubs. It is usually not enough to get down to the root zone. Additionally, older trees will benefit from extra water during droughty periods. Countryside can provide watering services while you are away on vacation, please contact our office: firstname.lastname@example.org
Say YES to Sedums
Sedums, in fact all succulents seem to be the hot plant right now. They fall into that hard to attain niche of high impact, low maintenance. Sedums only want full sun, and good drainage, and have low water needs once established. Sedums prefer their soil to be at neutral Ph (7.0) so you may need to add lime to your soil if it is too acidic. There is a Sedum specie for almost every application; they can be in the form of ground covers, mounding full bushy types, as well as tall vertical accents. Part of the fascination for Sedums is the many leaves shapes, textures and colors they have.
Sedum takesimense ‘Atlantis’ or the Atlantis Stonecrop was named plant of the year at the 2019 Chelsea Flower Show. Atlantis’ serrated leaves form dense rosettes. Each leaf is medium green with a wide yellow-white margin. Cold weather brings a pinkish hue to the margins. Tiny star-shaped golden flowers appear in clusters above the plant from midsummer onward. Atlantis grows 4-6” high x 10-12” wide, hardy in zones 4-9.
Sedum takesimense ‘Atlantis’
Sedum telephium is more of an upright specie, familiar to many as the cultivar Autumn Joy, or Matrona; they have strong vertical stems with flowers that are carried on broad heads. Matrona is notable for having blue-green leaves with wine red stems! Autumn Joy has a soothing mint green leaf color, and flowers that are rosy-pink, and hold well into fall providing welcome all season color. Another striking cultivar is called ‘Touchdown Teak’ with eye popping deep burgundy leaves on wine-red stems. Sedum telephium can grow from 15-24” tall x 18-24” wide.
Sedum telephium ‘Touchdown Teak’
Sedum telephium ‘Matrona’
Sedum telephium ‘Autumn Joy’
Sedum spurium is a low, mat forming specie of Stonecrop. We have planted many beautiful swaths of S. spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’ here at Countryside Landscape. This ultra hardy Sedum forms dense carpets of reddish green leaves, that turn progressively more ‘blood’ colored as cooler weather sets in. Bright carmine-red flowers begin blooming in early summer, and keep on blooming through late summer/early fall. A recent introduction, called ‘Fuldaglut’ or ‘Fireglow’ is a similar cultivar, and is used interchangeably. S. spurium is very low growing; only 3-4” tall x 1-1.5’ wide.
Sedum spurium ‘Dragon’s Blood’
There is even a native Stonecrop, Sedum ternatum that is found wild in the eastern US. Woodland Stonecrop bears starry white flowers in late spring/early summer. Contrary to its European cousins, our native Stonecrop prefers rocky, neutral pH, moist soil, with light to medium shade. Sedum ternatum spreads by rhizomes to form mats of whorled leaves 4-8” tall x 1’ wide, will attract butterflies and other pollinators.
Sedum ternatum Woodland Stonecrop
Sedum ternatum Woodland Stonecrop
Creating habitat for our native and introduced pollinators has become important as we continue to see the effects from honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder. Pollinator gardens can also provide habitat for natural pest enemies. Many natural pest enemies only feed on prey for part of their life cycle; pollen and nectar are alternative food sources when prey is absent. These plants are excellent sources of pollen and nectar:
Acer rubrum, the native Red Maple is highly prized for its outstanding red fall leaf color, and its ability to withstand periodic flooding. The frilly red flowers in April, add to Acer rubrum’s appeal. There are many outstanding cultivars available for home gardeners. Red Maple will grow 40-60’ tall, and has a medium rate of growth: 10-12’ in 5-7 years. Prefers slightly acidic, moist soil; one of the first trees to show seasonal fall color.
Acer rubrum flowers
Acer rubrum ‘Red Sunset’
Helenium autumnale, or Sneezeweed is a hardy member of the perennial sunflower family. Hundreds of flowers will open in late summer on a bold 3-5’ plant. A pollinator magnet, you may see hundreds of native bees on one mature plant during bloom. Sneezeweed is available in several colors, and prefers full sun conditions.
Tilia americana, the American Linden or Basswood, has very fragrant yellow flowers during June. Sometimes called the ‘Bee-tree’, because it is so beloved by pollinators. Growing to 60-80’, it is said to be a source of the best honey for bees. Tilia Americana will grow in full sun or partial shade, but prefers deep, moist soil.
Tilia americana flowers
Tilia americana tree
Vaccinium corymbosum, the High-Bush Blueberry, will provide sweet berries for your family, and pollen and nectar for the beneficial insects. If you want to harvest berries for yourself, it is recommended to protect the bushes with bird netting. Blueberries are native to swampy areas, but will thrive in sandy, acidic soils also. They can grow well in sun or partial shade, depending on the cultivar will grow 6-12’ tall x 8-12’ wide.
Vaccinium corymbosum flowers
Blueberries ready for harvesting
Agastache foeniculum is Anise hyssop, a long blooming, very easy native perennial. The fragrant plants attract many kinds of pollinators, and bloom June through September. The leaves and flowers smell and taste like licorice, and has been long used as a herbal tonic. Anise hyssop will grow in full sun to part shade, and prefers a well drained soil. The plants may self-seed, and can spread into 2-3’ tall clumps. There are several cultivars on the market as well as a sterile cultivar called ‘Blue Fortune’.